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Early Lead Helps UNCW Move Past Flames

November 18, 2013
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Looking to rebound from back-to-back losses, the Liberty men's basketball team returned to the Vines Center, Monday night, playing host to UNCW. Led by 24 and 23-point performances from Addison Spruill and Tanner Milson, the Seahawks took an advantage early and didn't look back, defeating the Flames, 87-76.

Marshall paced Liberty with a season-high 24 points, followed by John Caleb Sanderswho had 13. JR Coronado grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds to go along with seven points. Joe Retic also had a season-best nine boards for the Flames.

UNCW (3-2) shot 52.1 percent (25-of-48) on the night, while holding Liberty (1-3) to 41.8 percent (23-of-55). Each team posted six three-pointers on the night. Milson knocked down the bulk of the Seahawks' treys, going 5-of-7 from long distance. Marshall sank four three-pointers for Liberty.

UNCW jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the early going, receiving baskets from Ben Eblen, Spurill and Milson. Liberty chipped away at the deficit, outscoring the Seahawks, 7-2, in a 57-second span to pull within two, 11-9, at 13:08.

The Seahawks broke away again, this time going on a 9-0 run. The Flames responded with an 8-0 burst of their own capped by a Marshall three-pointer, making it 20-17, at 7:53.

UNCW created more distance in the remaining minutes, outpointing the Flames 16-8 during the span. Milson cemented the half with a 50-foot three-pointer to put the Seahawks ahead, 36-25, at halftime.
Milson's long range trey gave him 16 points in the first stanza, followed by Spruill with 10. Marshall led the Flames in the opening frame with seven tallies.

UNCW shot 41.7 percent (10-of-24) during the first half, while holding the Flames to 29.6 percent (8-of-27) from the field.

Liberty began the second period with six unanswered points off a free throw by Andrew Smith, a Marshall trey and another Sanders tally from the charity stripe. UNCW continued the trend of scoring bursts with a 6-0 run to take a 42-30 lead at 15:56.

With UNCW up by 10 at the 10:15 mark, baskets by Retic and Coronado cut the Seahawks lead to six. After a Cedrick Williams jumper, Liberty countered with a crowd-igniting dunk by Smith and a Tomasz Gielo layup to make it a four-point game, 58-54, with 7:59 remaining.

Still holding a four-point lead just over a minute later, UNCW proceeded to go on a 7-0 run, capitalizing on two Liberty turnovers during the span. Milson's fifth three-pointer on the night put the visitors ahead, 68-57, with 5:52 left.

The Flames refused to go away, climbing back within six with 2:17 remaining thanks to a Marshall layup. Liberty was able to cut it to five with 21 ticks left, but could not inch any close en route to the UNCW victory.

Liberty heads to Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, for a meeting with ACC member Virginia. The contest marks Liberty's first against the Cavaliers since pulling off an 86-82 upset inside John Paul Jones Arena on Nov. 25, 2008. Tipoff for Saturday's contest is slated for 4 p.m.